Questions and Answers
Q: What does the Bible say concerning the “two end time” witnesses?
In Revelation 11:3-12, God’s two witnesses are introduced. The Scriptures indicate the length of their ministry to be 1,260 days. This number coincides with the Jewish calendar which consists of twelve months, containing thirty days each. The 1,260 days computes to three and one-half years: half of the seven years Tribulation. Most commentators agree upon the length of ministry of the witnesses. The question pondered is, “In which half of the seven years do these two witnesses fulfill their ministry?”
Writers, such as John Walvoord, suggest these witnesses will be on the scene during the latter half of the Tribulation period. “From the fact, however, that the two witnesses pour out divine judgments upon the earth and need divine protection lest they be killed, it implies that they are in the latter half of the seven years when awful persecution will afflict the people of God, as this protection would not be necessary in the first three and one-half years.”(1) This passage in Revelation could be a summation of the events surrounding the activities of God’s two witnesses. God never leaves Himself without a witness, Acts 14:7. Therefore, after the rapture of the Church, the world would be without a verbal witness, apart from God empowering these two to proclaim the message of repentance and salvation. It would be logical to surmise the 144,000 Jewish witnesses come to Christ in response to the preaching of the witnesses. Multitudes of Gentiles will be saved! Throughout the first half of the Tribulation period, these two witnesses are powerfully and boldly proclaiming the true Christ in the face of the Antichrist! This will later culminate with the hatred of the unrepentant and the wrath of the Antichrist.
Who are these two bold witnesses? The Bible identifies them as the “two olive trees, and the two candlesticks”, Revelation 11:4. There has been much speculation as to their identity. It
has been suggested they are Elijah and Moses, or Elijah and Enoch. This assumption is based
upon the facts of the similarity of the plagues and miracles preformed (Elijah and Moses), or the two men the Bible records as having went to heaven without dying (Elijah and Enoch). It could be they are neither, for God can perform these miraculous works through anyone He chooses. However, it seems clear these two witnesses are two men chosen by God to proclaim the gospel to the remaining inhabitants of earth during the first half of the Tribulation.
These two witnesses will be sheltered with divine protection until they have completed their ministry. Anyone who may threaten them with bodily harm will be consumed by fire proceeding out of their mouths. The child of God, living in the will of God, is indestructible until he finishes his work, John 17:1; 2 Timothy 4:7. God will supernaturally empower these two witnesses to pronounce various plagues upon the earth. The Bible identifies their ability to pronounce drought upon the earth and to turn water into blood. These plagues resemble similar plagues pronounced by the two Old Testament prophets, Moses and Elijah.
As the first half of the Tribulation period comes to a close, the true devilish character of the Antichrist will be revealed to the world. It seems the pivotal event could be the demise of the two witnesses. These men have defied and testified against the Antichrist for three and one-half years, without anyone being able to stop them. The hatred and rage of the Antichrist and his followers will have been mounting toward these men. It will not be until the witnesses have completed their ministry that God will allow the wrath of the Antichrist to be unleashed upon these men, overcoming and killing them. So great is the hatred toward these godly witnesses that their dead bodies will remain unburied where they are killed. This will be the ultimate indignity. All inhabitants of the earth will view in the street of Jerusalem for three and one-half days, the lifeless bodies of these men. There will be an evil celebration and the ungodly will rejoice and give gifts to one another. It will be like Christmas time! The evil Antichrist will convince himself and the people of their victory over these prophets of God who “tormented them” and pronounced the judgment to come.
The celebration will end and the voices of rejoicing will be silenced after three and one-half days. As the entire world watches, life will enter into the bodies of these prophets and they will return to life! These ‘dead’ men will stand upon their feet and great fear will enter into the all who witness the epic event. The Bible does not record them speaking, simply standing. After an undisclosed length of time a great voice from heaven is heard speaking to the two resurrected men. The invitational command is issued for them to “Come up hither”. They ascend up into heaven as the entire population beholds them.
This epoch will usher in the Great Tribulation when the full hatred of Satan and the full measure of the wrath of God without mercy will be experienced. The Antichrist desecrates the Temple and breaks his ‘peace’ treaty with the Jews. This is when the temple is given to the Gentiles . . . “and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.” Severe and massive persecution envelopes those who refuse to follow the Antichrist. Many suffer martyrdom because they refuse to take the mark of the beast.
At the time of the resurrection and ascension of the two witnesses the Bible says, “And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory
to the God of heaven. The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly”,
(1) John F. Walvoord, The Revelation Of Jesus Christ, (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1966), 178.